Mercedes trying to regain earlier form, give White Sox offense a needed boost
As the White Sox continue to explore trades for needed offensive help -- Arizona's Eduardo Escobar and Pittsburgh's Adam Frazier are the notable names on general manager Rick Hahn's target list -- getting more internal production is equally critical.
Looking at you, Yermin Mercedes.
The toast of the major leagues in April and early May, Mercedes has gone way flat over the last six weeks.
The Sox's rookie designated hitter did break out in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Mariners, but he'll have to wait before trying to build on his 2-for-4, 3 RBI showing.
Monday night's White Sox-Twins game at Guaranteed Rate Field was rained out. It will be made up on July 19 as part of a straight doubleheader.
Before Sunday, Mercedes was mired in a 1-for-20 slump and batting .103 (7-for-68) over his last 20 games.
The extended slide dropped his average from .340 to .269, but Mercedes is hoping hard work and a positive outlook have helped him survive.
"We're working in the cage, the coaches, the hitting coach (Frank Menechino)," Mercedes said after Monday's game was postponed. "Don't try to do too much because a lot of times I'm trying to do too much, like the last month. I'm working with the coaches right there. They told me don't try to do too much because you are a good hitter.
"Just focus on every pitch, trust in yourself, you've got good hands, you've got a good mentality when you go to home plate. The key is don't do too much. We're working on it every day in the cage."
Like most young hitters, Mercedes started expanding his strike zone and pulling his head off the baseball. He also tried hitting home runs and suffered the consequences.
Mercedes says he never lost confidence, but the results say otherwise.
"I can't get inside his head, but I know he was concerned," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "You see the average go down, and hit it harder and farther was his answer. Charlie Lau used to have a great quote, 'Swing easy and hit it hard.' That's the best thing when you feel like you are pressing, just relax a little bit, get the barrel to it and the ball jumps."
Mercedes hit a hard 2-run double in the first inning Sunday and drove in his final run with an infield single.
That provided a mental boost, and new Mercedes is determined to start producing like he did earlier in the season.
"I think I tried to do too much," the 28-year-old DH said. "I know the White Sox believe in me and I believe in myself. I know who I am. The thing is, it's going to happen sometimes but you need to keep your head up and that's it. It doesn't matter what's going to happen today or tomorrow because every day is a new day. Everything is good."